Glass Futures is continuing its research into low carbon alternative fuels for use in the glass manufacturing industry. Research trials into low carbon alternative fuels for glass furnaces are currently ongoing as part of Glass futures’ Government funded Industrial Fuel Switching Phase 3 programme.

Glass Futures, a not-for-profit research and technology organisation was awarded a £7.1m contract in 2020 by The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s (BEIS) Energy Innovation Programme to research and deliver new energy sources to the glass industry.

This work involves test firing hydrogen and bio-fuels in a scale model glass furnace at temperatures in excess of 1500°C, simulating real world firing conditions for alternative fuels.

The project is also evaluating the associated technical, economic, and environmental aspects of fuels. The project includes industrial and academic partners and the final report for this work is due to be published by BEIS in summer 2022.

While the glass sector has made progress by halving emissions in the last 50 years, there is a need to urgently accelerate efforts to increase energy efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions to meet the UK’s 2050 carbon commitments.

The UK Government released its Net-Zero strategy ahead of the UN COP26 summit, which sets out how the UK will deliver on its commitment to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, outlining measures for the transition to a green and sustainable future.

The strategy announces an extra £500 million towards projects, bringing the total funding for net-zero research and innovation to at least £1.5 billion to support technologies that decarbonise glass and other industries.

Last January as part of this project, glass container manufacturer Encirc and Glass Futures demonstrated new bottles can be made from 100% recycled glass, using only the energy from burning ultra-low-carbon bio-fuels, achieving a 90% reduction in carbon footprint.

Dr Palma González García, Industrial Fuel Switching Innovation and Programme Manager, said: “It was exhilarating igniting the furnace for the first time and this marks an important first step in a series of trials to assess the potential of low-carbon fuel technologies to decarbonise the glass industry in accordance with the Government’s net-zero target by 2050.

“As many furnaces due to be installed in the coming years will be expected to run for up to 20 years, new low carbon fuel technologies need to be proven technically and economically as soon as possible if the global glass sector is to fully decarbonise by 2050.”

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